Short wheel-base, nimble handling, that's the CityX


The Buell Lightning CityX - XB9SX


An Urban Brawler built to tame the city


The new Buell Lightning CityX XB9SX was bred to rule the streets. The Lightning CityX gives the innovative Buell Lightning platform a tough new profile and offers performance that’s especially suited to city riding – a combination of agile handling and muscular mid-range power.

"The Lightning CityX is an urban streetfighter, a bike that’s especially suited for aggressive city riding," said Erik Buell, chairman and chief technical officer at Buell Motorcycle Company. "This is a bike for the rider who loves to dodge traffic, power away from lights and utilize the incredible agility of a sport motorcycle to charge through the asphalt jungle."

The aggressive black-and-blue styling of the Lightning CityX establishes an attitude for the motorcycle and its rider. It's  rugged with attitude and ready to do battle with the traffic in the city. The Hero Blue airbox cover and flyscreen are made of a new translucent plastic that gives the bike colour but also allows some mechanical elements to be visible through the material. This first use of a "see-through" styling element on a Buell motorcycle makes the Lightning CityX the ultimate naked bike. The gauge faces and perforated tail insert are also blue, and at night the instruments have a subtle blue glow. To better camouflage urban grime, the Lightning CityX features Villain Black cast aluminium wheels and a Midnight Black chin fairing and front fender. Pirelli Scorpion Sync tyres feature an aggressive tread pattern for outstanding grip over the everchanging urban street-scape.

To handle the city elements, the Lightning CityX is equipped with handlebar deflectors and a headlight grille. A new Skyline seat and a wide Villain Black handlebar with a Supermotard-style crossbar, promote a comfortable, upright riding style perfect for viewing the traffic ahead.

Buell took the Harley 884cc (900) mill and breathed on it, with fuel injection and all, making more power.

The heart of the Lightning is its Buell Thunderstorm 984 engine, an air/oil/fan-cooled, 984cc 45-degree fuel-injected V-Twin that’s lightweight, narrow in profile and tuned to deliver the kind of mid-range power an urban rider can use to dart through traffic, merge with authority and out-muscle the masses from stoplight to stoplight. Peak output is 83 hp (62kW) and a thumping 64 ft. lbs (85.6Nm) of torque, delivered through a smooth, durable drivebelt. The engine is mounted in a Buell Lightning chassis that’s especially well-suited to the duck-and-dive action of urban riding. An ultra-short 52-inch (1320mm) wheelbase, 21-degree fork angle and 85mm of trail gives the Lightning CityX razor-sharp reflexes, enhancing the motorcycle’s response to rider input.

The Lightning will take the hole-shot at every green light, dart around potholes, split lanes of strangled traffic and drift through the tightest lines the urban jungle has to offer.

and how's this for trick... Frame doubles as fuel tank and swingarm is the oil tank for the dry-sump engine.

The Lightning XB9SX is the latest expression of the Buell technical design philosophy, focused on three elements: frame rigidity, mass centralization and low unsprung weight. The rigid aluminium frame is a lightweight, multi-functional structure that serves as both a solid backbone for the motorcycle and as a 14 litre (3.7-gallon) fuel tank. Using the frame to carry fuel significantly lowers the center of gravity and reduces the moment of inertia, both of which improve the bike’s reaction to rider input. Locating the exhaust muffer below the engine further enhances mass centralization and a lower centre of gravity. The massive aluminium swingarm doubles as the engine oil tank, and is supported by an adjustable Showa shock absorber.

The Buell Zero Torsional Load (ZTL) front brake system feeds braking forces from a six-piston caliper through a 375mm inside-out rotor mounted near the wheel rim to virtually eliminate torsional loads to the front wheel. This permits the use of a

lightweight, six-spoke cast aluminium wheel that significantly reduces unsprung weight and steering inertia. The front end is suspended by a fully adjustable 43mm Showa inverted fork.

The final key to the uncanny agility of the Lightning is a chassis geometry that combines a 21-degree fork angle and 83mm of trail with a compact, 52-inch (1320mm) wheelbase. Fifty-two percent of the bike’s mass is carried on the front wheel. The result is a sport motorcycle with the quick reflexes of a GP racer, a bike that will flick into a corner instantly and hold the line.

The Buell belt drive features an additional idler pulley that ensures a constant path length of the belt. All the well-known advantages of a belt drive, such as smoothness, durability and maintenance ease, are enhanced with this new configuration. However, the most significant advantage of this new technology is the total absence of any lash in the transmission thus optimising power control. Furthermore, the constant belt geometry limits the influence of the secondary transmission to the rear suspension. No adjustment is required, which simplifies maintenance and reduces the number of parts and the weight of the rear axle assembly. The CityX uses the 14mm pitch aramid reinforced Hibrex belt with Flexten Plus technology (made by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company)

The Buell chassis includes a multifunctional aluminium frame. This masterpiece blends the functions of a traditional frame with a fuel tank. Its massive construction delivers an exceptional level of rigidity. The fuel is located in the bottom-end of the frame and therefore located much lower and more centred than on a traditionally configured bike. This lowers the centre of gravity and reduces the moment of inertia in pitch and roll. The overall weight of the frame is significantly lower than the weight of the traditional components that it replaces.

The Lightning also features the Buell patented Uniplanar system which allows the engine to participate in the frame rigidity. As per the frame, the swingarm is made of aluminium. A massive piece further enhancing the rigidity of the chassis. It forms, with the frame, this one line shape. When looked at from the left-hand side of the bike, it constitutes a line from the steering head to the rear wheel axle. And again, form meets functionality as the swingarm holds the oil reservoir around the arm pivot. This not only reduces the number of parts and the weight of the motorcycle, it also helps reduce the overall size of the bike by allowing for an easier packaging of elements such as the battery or the DDFI II electronic module.

The fully adjustable Showa inverted forks ensure maximum rigidity and feedback. When combined with the optimised triple clamp and front wheel axle design, the result is an outstanding front-end rigidity. The forks’ set-up delivers fantastic steering

accuracy, while maintaining an excellent level of comfort and feedback to the rider. It is like having the front wheel mounted between the rider’s thumbs! The rear suspension is made of a fully adjustable Showa rear shock absorber, directly installed between the frame and the swingarm in a semi-vertical position, allowing such a short wheelbase.

Due to the new front brake configuration and wheel design optimisation, the weight of the front wheel assembly has been greatly reduced. The Buell engineering team simplified all components in the front wheel area as a result of its constant pursuit of weight reduction. An example of this minimalist approach is the front wheel axle configuration, which includes a minimum number of parts (no spacer, nut, nor washer) while assuring the highest level of rigidity. And benefits are evident: The low un-sprung weight ensures that the tyre has contact with the road surface most circumstances, while the low steering inertia is a key element for the bike’s impressive agility. The rear wheel also benefited from the engineering initiative of weight reduction among the un-sprung elements of the motorcycle. The rear tyre size (180mm) has been carefully chosen to optimise the combination of traction and agility. The combination of front and rear wheel assemblies delivers great agility, traction, comfort, weight reduction, serviceability and... style!

The Lightning CityX features a minimal front flyscreen,  mounted over small, efficient dual headlights stuffed tight into the front end and held by a beautiful casting integrating all the components together.

The handlebar, seat and footpegs location defines the riding position, to achieve a true Streetfighter feel combined with a perfect sense of control. The front end of the motorcycle is so short, that the bike totally disappears when riding, giving a feeling of flight. These unique characteristics further reinforce the sensation of being directly connected with the road.

The bike is very narrow and extraordinarily agile, thanks to its low overall weight, incredible level of mass centralization, short wheelbase and the increased lever provided by the wide handlebar.

The rigidity of the chassis ensures perfect stability and an immediate, unfiltered response to rider inputs. The relaxed riding position and the comfortable seat allow hours and hours of unlimited fun.

The black-and-blue styling of the Lightning CityX establishes an attitude for the motorcycle and its rider: rugged, no-nonsense, ready for streetfighting. The Hero Blue Traslucent airbox cover and flyscreen are made of a new translucent plastic that gives the bike colour but also allows some mechanical elements to be visible through the material. This first use of a "see-through" styling element on a Buell motorcycle makes the Lightning CityX the ultimate naked bike. The gauge faces and perforated tail insert are also blue, and at night the instruments have a subtle blue glow.

The XB engine features a three-phase high output alternator. The forced–air cooling system involves an ECM (Electronic Control module) controlled fan.

The Lightning's dash, inspired by classic American hot-rod components features the speedometer, tachometer, indicator lights, low fuel warning indicator, two trip odometers, one fuel odometer which starts to count mileage when the low fuel light goes on, and a clock.

Thanks to Corne Saayman of Buell and Mishka of Harley-Davidson in Johannesburg for the ride...

I really enjoyed riding the Buell Lightning XB9SX CityX, that's my kinda bike.   Kenn Slater.


This way or that... the Lightning XB9SX can still lean over much more.


Kenn Slater


Buell Lightning CityX XB9SX 2005 Specifications:

Engine: Type Air/oil/fan cooled, Four Stroke, 45 degree V-Twin

Displacement: 984 cc

Bore and Stroke 3.5 x 3.125 in / 88.9 x 79.38 mm

Compression rati: 10:1

Valve train: OHV, Two valves per cylinder

Valve adjustment: Self adjusting

Fuel delivery: 45 mm down draft DDFI II fuel injection

Exhaust: Free-Breathing 2 into 1 collector (test bike fitted with a twin-exit race pipe)

Intake: 0 resistance Air Box, Ram Air Intake

Power: 83 hp / 84PS / 62 kW @ 6600 rpm (test bike fitted with a Buell race-kit, making about 90 bhp)

Torque: 63.14 ft-lb / 85.6Nm @ 5600 (100Nm)

Lubrication: Dry Sump, 2.5 Quarts / 2.4 litres Capacity

Chassis: Frame Aluminium Frame with Uniplanar Powertrain Vibration Isolation system

Wheelbase: 1320 mm / 52 in

Rake: 21 degree. Trail: 83 mm / 3.3 in

Front Suspension: Showa shock absorber with adjustable compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload

Rear Suspension: Showa shock absorber with adjustable compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload

Front wheel travel: 120 mm, 4.7 in

Rear wheel travel: 127 mm, 5 in

Front brake: ZTL type brake, 375 mm stainless steel floating rotor, 6 piston caliper

Rear brake: 240 mm stainless steel rotor, single piston floating caliper

Front wheel: 6 spoke cast aluminium, 3.5 x 17 in / 88.9 x 431.8 mm Villain Black

Rear wheel: 6 spoke cast aluminium, 5.5 x 17 in / 139.7 x 431.8 mm Villain Black

Front tyre: Pirelli Scorpion Sync 120/70 ZR-17

Rear tyre: Pirelli Scorpion Sync 180/55 ZR-17

Fuel capacity: 14 litres / 3.7 Gal

Gross vehicle weight rating: 850 lb / 385 kg

Dry weight: 385 lb / 175 kg

Load capacity: 400 lb / 181 kg

Seat height: 30.6 in / 777 mm

Ground clearance: 4.35 in / 110 mm

Overall length: 76.8 in / 1950 mm

Overall width: 32.3 in / 820 mm

Overall height: 42.3 in / 1075 mm

Transmission Type: Five-speed, constant mesh. Ratio 1) 2.69, (2) 1.85, (3) 1.43, (4) 1.18, (5) 1.00

Primary drive: Chain 1.68:1 ratio

Clutch: Wet, Multiplate

Final drive: Constant path, 14 mm pitch aramid reinforced Hibrex belt with Flexten Plus technology**, 2.41:1 ratio

Instruments: Electronic speedometer, tachometer, odometer, 2 tripmeter, reserve tripmeter, clock, low fuel light, engine check light, oil pressure warning light, indicator for high beam, turn signals and neutral.

Electrical: Charging system 494 watts peak, 38-amp permanent magnet 3-phase alternator w/ solid state-regulator

Battery: 12 Volts, 12 Amp-hour

Headlight: 55/55 Watt, projector beam

Turn signals: Manual cancelling

Colours: Translucent Hero Blue flyscreen and airbox cover, Midnight Black front fender and chin spoiler, Villain Black wheels

Warranty 2 Year, unlimited mileage warranty (Europe), 1 Year Buell Roadside Assistance (Europe).


The Buell CityX will send your pulse racing.


Test bike courtesy of Buell Johannesburg. Tel: 011 884 0454